April 25, 2010

Get On Your Bikes and Ride

I took my 8-year-old son Ryan to get a new bike this weekend. He has officially outgrown his 16" bike and was ready for his first 20" bike, but before we shopped, we were informed of his need to have a bike with "gears" and specifically one where you could spin the pedals backwards while riding.

As we shopped for bikes and eventually found the one he wanted, it got me thinking about the similarities between a bicycle and a successful career in real estate. Go for a ride here with me, will ya?

Begin with the End In Mind - Yes, this is the same concept as introduced to the world by Dr. Steven Covey in his tremendous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Ryan knew that he wanted a 20" bike similar to those his neighborhood buddies rode and it had to have the "gears" and he had to be able to pedal backwards while he was still riding.

What do you have planned that you want to accomplish today, this week, this month or this year? Have you reviewed the business plan you created at the end of 2009? What are the specific things that you have to have to make this year a success? Now that you have those things clearly in your mind, are you ready to pedal until you achieve them?

What's Your Comfort Zone? For Ryan to ride comfortably on his new bike we had to lower the seat as far as it could go and even then, he still needs to stretch his legs when he stops. But, we all know he'll grow into the new bike as the summer begins.

How safe do you like to feel when you're facing your daily activities? Do you "lower your seat" as low as it will go because it's not too much of a stretch or do you find yourself always trying to go a bit higher? The more we can push the limits of our comfort zone, the stronger we will get. Confidence doesn't come to those who repeatedly do the easy stuff, it comes to those who master the easy and then reach for the harder stuff, seeking to make that become the easy stuff until they are ready to reach for the next level of hard stuff. Remember - people don't pay top dollar for the easy stuff they could do themselves.

What would you say is "outside of your comfort zone" today? Maybe it's that For Sale By Owner that you just saw this weekend? That upset client who left you a message that you just don't want to call back? Perhaps it is asking for a full fee on your next listing presentation? Success is rarely found inside your comfort zone.

How's Your Balance? - Riding a bigger bike isn't much different from a smaller bike except it's a lot longer to the ground if you fall. The key is to maintain a steady balance whether you're moving slow or fast.

In a career like real estate, the word "balance" can be a bit hard to define. Are you looking for balance between your work life and your personal life? Time spent with clients vs. time spent with family? Focusing on business development activities vs. time spent on business support activities?

There's no generic answer to finding balance because for everyone, it holds a different meaning. Sometimes on a bike, the faster you go the easier it is to stay upright while other times, you must slow down to regain your balance. Two things are true about balance in both bike riding and real estate; #1 - You need to stay focused on what is ahead of you. If you spend too much time look backwards, you're sure to lose balance and go off course. #2 - If you slow down too much, you will have no forward momentum and you're sure to topple over. Keep those wheels moving forward.

Look Both Ways - A good bike rider is always aware of his or her surroundings and watches for the obstacles that could impede his movement forward.

Are you comfortable with your ability to look at your activities and responsibilities from all angles? When you negotiate for your clients, are you smart enough to anticipate what the other party might do next so as to best position your client? When you fail, can you look objectively at your actions to see where improvement is possible? Do you try to put yourself in your clients shoes - gaining the empathy that might be needed in certain situations? Can you sometimes see where your actions might not have been prudent and are you honest enough to admit mistakes?

Changing Gears - Ryan needs to learn that you can't change gears while you're standing still. On a bicycle, in order for the gears to engage properly, the wheels and chain must be in motion when the gears are changed or else chain derailment may occur.

In real estate, the changing of gears in a daily occurrence but it is usually best dealt with by those who are constantly engaged in activity, not those who are waiting for things to happen. Remember back to your junior high school science class when you learned about Sir Issac Newton? Newton's First Law states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by another force.

Have you ever noticed that the busy agents in your office are almost always busy and those who have no business are usually complaining that the market is too slow for anyone to have business? What inertia will you apply to your business today to start the momentum moving towards your goals?

It's time to get that old bike out of the garage and get ready for a great spring ride. Strap on your helmet, jump on the seat and grab a hold of the handle bars. Pick your destination and take off, pedaling your ass off until you get to where you want to be.

I know Ryan will be doing the same thing every day this summer.